Radhanath Swami on the Essence of Education
I remember when I was young; parents would read stories to their children as they fell asleep. The bedtime stories were very sweet, pious tales. Some excitement and adventure may be there, but there was always a lesson, a clear moral to convey higher values. The mother would reveal, that beyond the greed, envy and arrogance surrounding us, exists higher values like compassion, tolerance and integrity. When conveyed by those they love and trust, such values build a healthy emotional and moral foundation within a child’s fertile consciousness.
Radhanath Swami elaborates on parent’s duty
To a child the parent is like a guru, a wise authority whom they can trust. If children see their parents living according to higher values, it creates a very strong foundation. If however, they hear these values, but see the parents acting against them, they see it as hypocrisy. Their response: rebellion. They rebel against the values because they feel cheated.
Thus the parent’s most essential duty is to first imbibe true values within themself and then to serve as a just and loving guide for their children. – Radhanath Swami
This is the highest expression of love a parent can provide for their child, for it is only through adherence to real values that their children may find that actual deep satisfaction of the heart. When a child is nourished by a parent’s positive influence then he or she can come to provide the same positive influence for the world.
Radhanath Swami on “The Importance of Values”
Values are like a building’s foundation. All of the professional information we provide for children, mathematics, engineering, science and so on, adds many valuable assets to the building. But values are the foundation. In a beautiful building, nobody says, “What a wonderful foundation you have in this building!” The furniture and the architecture are what catch the eye, but without a strong foundation, one passing storm can ruin it all. And this world is full of storms; it’s a bumpy and unpredictable road for everyone. There will always be massive temptations and massive fears. The tables will turn perpetually, whether we are politicians, businessmen, educators or swamis.
Thus each child should receive a complete education–– learned in material sciences and realized in culture. – Radhanath Swami
Being thus grounded in both aspects of life, they may remain fixed in their duties even when the going gets rough. I think it’s essential that the faculty regularly discuss the true meaning of education and prioritise culture as a foundation for our schools.
Radhanath Swami explains a parent’s impact
Educating the parents is a key aspect of educating the children. Parents, being the child’s most personal and trusted authority, have a huge impact in a student’s studies, their values, and their life. So at our school Gopal’s Garden we have workshops for the parents. They are not mandatory, but many parents are quite enlivened to take advantage of the unique facility provided. We present the same principle, that the cultivation of values, ethics, and compassion is a necessity in education–– not a detail. What will become of this world if moral codes are made a detail? If the future leaders of the world have all the power, but no sensibility, there will be unrelenting chaos. But so often in schools, if moral principles are even mentioned, they’re a detail. Therefore it is imperative, now more than ever, to take the time to culture our child’s character.
Being authorities, if parents emphasise higher principles of life to compliment their academic studies, each child will receive the highest benefit and become empowered to carry on the same crucial values for generations to come. – Radhanath Swami
Universal Values = Universal Prosperity
These are universal principles. We may take the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews, the Sikhs, the Jains, the Parsis–– universal values are foundational to all these great religions. These are the principles that our children have to learn if they are to become empowered instruments for positive change in society. In our Bhagavad Gita, we learn that true wisdom is to see every being with equal vision.
braahmani gavi hastini
suni caiva caiva-svapaake ca
This means, a true “pundit” (or learned person) is one who recognizes the living force, the atma, within the heart of everyone. He sees that there are different dresses; American, Indian, male, female, Hindu, Muslim, black, white and so on. But the living force, that is seeing through the eyes, hearing through the ears, tasting through the tongue, smelling through the nose, thinking through the brain, loving through the heart is a part of God, it’s a divine being. When we actually recognise that divinity within ourselves, then we can recognise it wherever there is life. And naturally there is love, naturally there is compassion. And what’s the result of such understanding? Unconditional love for your neighbour as yourself.And Everyone is our neighbour! We all share the same planet. With today’s global economy and global community, the need to understand this principle is urgent. When there were problems on Wall Street, it created a situation that reverberated all over the world. When the World Trade Centre was attacked, it affected the economy of the whole planet. So nowadays, whatever happens somewhere, affects everywhere. Everything is so interconnected. So it’s crucial that we actually look for that essence, that we see the brotherhood and the sisterhood of humanity.
The purpose of spirituality, in its true form, whatever our religion, is to cleanse the heart of misconceptions. Through our practices, our prayer, our association, our values, and the principles that we build our life upon we develop that inner love.
By acting as instruments of that love in our business, in our politics, in our family interactions and so on, we assure the prosperity of our children and consequently the prosperity of the world to come. – Radhanath Swami